PW #101: Adult Literary/Magical Realism (#ownvoices): THESE ARE THE DAYS WITHOUT HER

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Jenny Ferguson Mentee Name: Marcos Gonzalez Title: THESE ARE THE DAYS WITHOUT HER Category: Adult Genre: Literary Fiction / Magical Realism (#ownvoices) Word Count: 95,000 Pitch: When immigration takes Yolandi’s breadwinning aunt under suspicion she’s a coyote, Yolandi and her sisters are abandoned—again. Adults this time, they’re old enough to know: pay the rent or end up on the streets. Hoping to rescue her tia and keep the family in ice-cream sandwiches and toilet paper, Yolandi pens an over-the-top zine. But the Cervantes women aren’t ready for the family secrets they’ll uncover. Excerpt: Issue 0 ¾ If this flimsy piece of paper is currently in your hands, and you’re glossing over these scribbles in funky 13 point font debating whether it’s worth an extra twenty seconds of your life to read on—you are right where you are supposed to be. Hey, hey, now don’t go putting it down. No one is judging you, no one is sneering at you, no one is scoffing hostility your way because you *gasp* dared to pick up this shiteously constructed zine made from brown paper lunch bags. So, ahem, there I was. Little ol’ Yolandi Cervantes de La Far Upper Upper East Side (as the cool kids are calling East Harlem nowadays), in one of those super-fetch, high-end bookstores downtown, passing by the history section on my way to science fiction in the poorly lit corner near the bathroom. Suddenly, in the middle of my journey, I find my movement stunted by the presence of a foiine southofthebordertype boy reading, oh so intensely, oh so seriously, Nietzsche in Spanish. Not paying much attention to what was in front of me since there was so much good to see to my left, clutzo me accidentally stumbled into one of those revolving bookcases. Embarrassing, tell me about it. Fortunately, having recently had several weeks of (free) Zumba classes at my college, I managed to catch the darn thing before it...

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PW #102: Adult Fantasy: THE LAST WITCH OF CAELHEARTH

Manuscript Status: 2 WEEKS DELIVERY Mentor Name: Carrie Callaghan Mentee Name: ReLynn Vaughn Title: THE LAST WITCH OF CAELHEARTH Category: Adult Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 110,000 Pitch: Throughout Willa’s young life, strong magic was forbidden. But when the rebellious Baron arrives to conscript her village, her own magic erupts. She kills a man, fails to save her beloved, and is kidnapped by the Baron, who wishes to shape her into a weapon. If Willa resists, he’ll slaughter her village. But cooperation would destroy her kingdom. Excerpt: Bright sun warmed the linen between Willa’s fingers. Her mam had made the gown for her seventeenth nameday. “We’ll never get there if you don’t hurry on, Willa!” Lettie pulled on their brother Jahn’s arm. “All the best treats will be gone!” “I’m coming.” Willa hurried. She looked forward to the midsummer faire, with the lively music, the spiced meat pies, and the rare wonders like silk ribbons and shiny lover’s jewelry. “You’re grinning like a fool, sister mine.” Jahn glanced at her. “It’s a beautiful day.” Thinking of the young man waiting for her, Willa’s heart fluttered with sparrow’s wings. She shifted her basket. Two glass jars clinked into each other. Jahn stopped, pitching Lettie forward in surprise. “Willa, you didn’t.” His face darkened. “You know that it’s…” “Dangerous. I know.” She kept the basket out of reach. “It’s not every order. Just Master Tolliver’s and Mistress Fisher’s. No one will see.” “You play with fire, girl.” Jahn grabbed Lettie, pulling her along. Willa held back, and a stone seemed to settle in her stomach. Jahn was right, she should have waited until there weren’t outsiders in Fairgate. Small magic like hers the law tolerated at best. But she loved helping people, and the little she brought in made her family more comfortable. Willa fingered the little glass jars, her fingers warming with the tickle of magic. Surely there would be no harm in carrying on with her deliveries....

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PW #103: Adult Historical Fiction: THE LAND BETWEEN KINGS

Manuscript Status: FINISHED Mentor Name: Carrie Callaghan Mentee Name: Eileen Haas Title: THE LAND BETWEEN KINGS Category: Adult Genre: Historical Fiction Word Count: 94,000 Pitch: In Viking-occupied Ireland, outcast jurist Cathal investigates a murder for the Irish king, unbeknownst to his Norse employer. Meanwhile, Norsewoman Ragna guards a dangerous secret that will entangle her in Cathal’s inquiry. As war looms, Cathal must play both sides or end up dead—and Ragna’s freedom depends on his silence. Excerpt: Cathal rubbed his eyes with one ink-stained hand and adjusted the two law books on the trestle table in front of him. The air inside King Ivar’s hall clogged his nose with heat and wood-smoke. All day Cathal had been hearing cases, and one remained. Against the far wall, Ivar sat in his high seat speaking with one of his men. The Norse king came when Cathal heard cases so he could be seen—and feared—by his Irish subjects. “Who’s next?” Cathal said in Norse, which he had learned as a boy in the monastery. Still, the slight catch of his accent betrayed his native Irish. A few people yet remained in the hall, mostly traders lingering to exchange gossip after paying their taxes. In the corner a young man shepherded a woman and a small child. At the authoritative clip of Cathal’s voice, the man glanced around, flummoxed. He wore a cloak in the Irish style, the colorful wool pinned to one shoulder, and the woman had a cross around her neck. “Are you here for a case?” Cathal said in the Munster dialect of Irish. “Are you the jurist?” the man said. “Cathal mac Finn?” Cathal’s eyes stung and his back was sore from the backless bench. He tapped his fingers on the table-top, casting a purposeful glance at his books. “Yes,” he said. “I am.” The young man took a step forward. “I have a case to bring against one of the foreigners.”...

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PW #104: Adult Fantasy: THE PROTECTOR OF THE SEVERN

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: Caitlin Sinead Mentee: Luanne Smith Title: THE PROTECTOR OF THE SEVERN Category: Adult Genre: Fantasy Word Count: 106,000 Pitch: When a treaty negotiation turns into an ambush, Protector Cira Conwy is forced to outrun assassins with her only surviving bodyguard, Lt. Ethan Daniels. While escaping across the Severn midlands—and falling hard for the lieutenant—Cira is blindsided by the reemergence of a weapon that could change the course of a brewing war. But when that same weapon threatens heartbreak, she’ll have to confront the demons in her past if she wants to change her future. Excerpt: I blew on each lens of the binoculars, then buffed them with the hem of my bloodstained shirt. A hairline crack in the glass distorted the view, yet I could still pick out the distant silhouette of a skulking Crau ship, should one approach. The horizon remained empty, but it wouldn’t stay that way for long. Lt. Daniels cleared his throat. “They’ve finished loading the bodies onto the ships, Protector.” I zoomed in on the time-eaten remains of a once prominent pier jutting out of the water. A pair of beach-rammers lolled in their wake as my men jumped off into the shallows, towropes in hand. “Make sure they haul the ships past the breakers,” I said, lowering the binoculars. “I don’t want them washing up on shore before the bodies have been found.” The lieutenant trudged through the sand, pointing seaward to the half-dozen rowboats. The oars hit the water, and the enemy ships heaved loose, sliding out to sea as silent as the souls they carried. “You’re not one for subtlety, Cira, I’ll grant you that,” Will Gruffydd said. I had launched a brutal message on the waves: thirty-eight bodies, greasy pickings for birds, set adrift to rot under a hot sun for their kinsmen to find. But I’d had enough of this game of raid-and-seek with the Crau....

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PW #105: Adult Fantasy Romance: THE RAVEN PRISONER

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: Layla Reyne Mentee: Maxym Martineau Title: THE RAVEN PRISONER Category/Genre: Adult Fantasy Romance Word count: 89,000 Pitch: LOST GIRL meets THE CAPTIVE PRINCE when succubus Harlyn’s captor ignites more than contempt. After learning the truth about the war that claimed her mother’s life, Harlyn must decide whether to fight for her captor’s faction and avenge her mother or escape the chains around her neck—and her heart—for good. Excerpt: Lighthouse District was full of possibilities. And I had one in my sights. I gripped the cracking leather hold above my head as the Runner screeched to a stop. The motion rattled the passengers, and that’s when I glimpsed her through the sea of staggering bodies. The elf. I could balance a broomstick on her perfectly angled shoulders. So much confidence. The metallic train doors slid open, and I pushed my way out, following in her shadow. She was young with pointed ears and thick black hair. Her red heels clicked against the pavement like ice cracking over a thawing lake. Business casual. Pencil skirt with a slit up the back. Wide-set hips. She’d do just fine. A wave of desire purled down my spine and spread toward my limbs. Damn, I was hungry. But I didn’t come to Lighthouse to settle for the first hot piece of ass off the Runner. Hell, I’d even dressed up for this outing. Hunger gripped my insides, and I pressed a hand against my corset’s boning, willing away the sharp clench. The craving had nothing to do with actual food, yet I couldn’t help the habit. True to its name, in Lighthouse there were no dark corners. No seedy establishments. No hidden alleys for questionable acts. Just marble-like buildings with magic in their brickwork that provided a constant soft glow. Privilege was a birthright to the locals. The backs of their heads were so heavy their noses always pointed...

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PW #106: Adult Contemporary Romance: CLAIMING HEARTS AND SPACES

Manuscript status: Finished with one-week delivery. (Author is out of the country.) Mentor Name: Heather Van Fleet Mentee Name: Morgan Crane Title: Claiming Hearts and Spaces Category: Adult Contemporary Romance Word Count: 99,000 Pitch: Income slashed, career-driven Madison can’t afford rent. Unfortunately, the only suitable roommate she can find is an ex-mobster…and the guy who swiped her purse. But Cole defies her expectations—he’s charming, sexy, an amazing cook—yet he’s frustratingly hell-bent on keeping his heart and secrets buried. When the mob calls though, Cole’s dark past and present collide, putting Madison in the deadly middle. Excerpt: The manuscript I’m editing looks like a massacre, mimicking the current state of my life. Red ink bleeds from the pages, smearing onto my hand as I slash at its imperfections. Spotting the words financial success, I scratch it away with my pen. “Yeah, not in this world.” A scrape sounds from my right. When I look up, I catch the lady beside me at the bar roll her eyes before she scoots her stool a few inches away. My lips curl in annoyance, but I don’t bother wasting a breath to snap at her. She doesn’t know I’m not this hostile person, that I’m actually a professional enjoying a necessary cocktail after a monumentally bad day. All she sees is the psycho sitting by herself on a Friday night, mumbling under her breath as she murders her work assignment. Taking a deep breath, I slide my left hand down the slate pencil skirt I wore straight from the office, hopeful it smooths the jagged edges of my emotions breaking through. It works, moderately. Until the same lady divulges to her girlfriends that she’s celebrating her latest promotion. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” The pen I’m holding cracks under the pressure of my grip. I should be thrilled another woman is succeeding in her industry—girl power and all. But how can I celebrate another’s success when mine has just been unjustly ripped from my fingers?...

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PW #107: Adult Women’s Fiction: GHOSTS OF RODEO DRIVE

MANUSCRIPT STATUS: Finished Mentor: Laura Heffernan Mentee: Steph Mignon Title: GHOSTS OF RODEO DRIVE Category/Genre: Adult/Women’s fiction Word Count: 86,000 Pitch: After growing up without indoor plumbing, Sierra moves to Beverly Hills, determined to marry for money. When a hot NBA player’s car knocks her out of her fake Louboutins, Sierra sees dollar signs–and wedding bells. Unfortunately, her job is “cursed”: No female employee has tied the knot in decades. Sierra explores life as a sugar baby, but when the cute magician downstairs helps her with a work presentation, she wonders if money is what she really wants, after all. First Page: In a few hours, Rodeo Drive will be teeming with Italian sports cars and the tightly stretched faces of Beverly Hills’ aging housewives. But right now, in the unspoiled sunshine of mid-morning, the store fronts and dreams trapped inside are all mine. In the window of Cartier’s flagship Beverly Hills location, a woman’s white gloved hand slips a diamond bracelet on a mannequin’s velvet wrist. The display case lights are already on, making it look like the salesperson holds a ball of stars in her hand, sparkles shooting in every direction. It’s my favorite thing to watch: the way she works her gloves around the circle, polishing each gem like she’s a cat licking her newborn kittens. Someday, when I tell my future, filthy rich husband about this strand of perfection, he’ll agree such an exquisite piece should be mine. Since I moved to Southern California a few months ago, this is my Monday morning ritual. I wake up early, put on flats, and walk from the Beverlywood apartment I share with my best friend Julie to look into the windows of my destiny. I think about my goals as I walk past pristine Beverly Hills lawns, their gardeners stopping leaf blowers as I pass. I haven’t always been a gold digger. Like most little girls, I had big...

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PW #108: Adult Contemporary Romance: FALLING FOR THE OTHER BROTHER

Manuscript Status: 2 weeks delivery Mentor Name: J. R. Yates Mentee Name: Shannon Caldwell Title: FALLING FOR THE OTHER BROTHER Category: Adult Genre: Contemporary Romance Word Count: 80,000 Pitch: Divorcee Aven Conner is done ditching her aspirations for men who ghost on her. She cashes in her Lexus convertible for lotus pose and returns home to follow her neglected dream of opening a yoga center. When sparks fly with her ex-boyfriend’s younger brother, she learns to bend a little, until his plan to leave threatens to break her. Excerpt: The symphony of joints popping punctuated the most elegant tree pose Aven Conner had ever witnessed. The silver-haired woman on the mat next to her shifted into the splits as though her body were six decades younger. Others in the class twisted into downward-facing-don’ts. The teacher seemed oblivious the class was more of the Bengay crowd than Bend-it-like-Beckham. The seniors’ yoga class was the only session that fit in Aven’s tight schedule so she couldn’t be choosy. She’d needed a practice to lessen her what-the-hell-have-I-done anxiety to a more manageable I-can-do-this whimpering, and the selection of classes in a thirty-mile radius of Sugar Ridge, Texas was slim pickings. The opening of her retreat center in two weeks would solve that little problem…and hopefully a few more along the way. It had to. While the instructor ended the class with a reading, Aven ticked off the reasons why opening her center was a smart idea. No more moving around every two years as demanded from her previous life in hotels and event management. She could finally focus on her career and her dreams rather than taking a back seat to her ex-husband’s. She’d get to teach more yoga and meditation classes, and run a hospitality business her way. And she’d be successful, damn it. She had to. When the silence in the room finally penetrated her thoughts, Aven snapped open her eyes to find the space...

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PW #109: Adult Contemporary Romance: ALL SONGS ARE LOVE SONGS

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: Mary Ann Marlowe and Jaime Loren Mentee: Gwynne Jackson Title: ALL SONGS ARE LOVE SONGS Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance Word Count: 91,000 Pitch: Roadie Jesse lands a job as assistant to a rock star, catapulting her into the public eye and putting the spotlight on her relationship with bass tech Wes. But a fan-fueled smear campaign threatens to force Jesse to leave her dream job to protect the man she loves. Excerpt: Tonight, no one’s allowed in with the band. The post-gig music’s vibrating into the soles of my feet like a living organism when a voice squawks urgently into my headset. One got past, Jesse, what do we do? And they call themselves security? “On it.” I block the dressing room door. It’s showtime. The fan’s as high as a kite, I can tell. She flips the bird to the venue guys reaching for her. Skidding to a stop, she looks me up and down through glazed eyes. “A girl? Are you kidding me?” She tries to push past, but I’m stronger than I look. Catching the groupie by the shoulders, I give her a little rattle. Not enough to make her file charges, but enough to shake her head out of her ass and help her feet find solid ground. “You see that guy?” Our road manager’s barreling toward us. “He runs the show. Go hang with him. I’ll check to see if the band’s up for visitors.” Her eyes flit between me and the dressing room. Only one of these is the prize she’s looking for, and my heart goes out to her in sympathy. I know what it’s like to want to meet your idols. I know what it’s like to want that so bad you can’t sleep, so bad you’d do anything to fight past the arms holding you back. For a brief moment I think she’ll back down. Nope. She lunges for the keys chained to my...

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PW #110: Adult Contemporary Fantasy with M/M Romance: PARADISA

MANUSCRIPT STATUS: Finished Mentor Name: Michelle Hazen Mentee Name: Michelle Iannantuono Title: PARADISA Category: Adult Genre: Contemporary fantasy with M/M romance Word Count: 88,000 Pitch: All gods may be real, but the greatest heroes are human. That includes gay ex-Navy SEAL Connor Bishara when he discovers the world’s deepest secret—Paradisa, a realm where every mythic pantheon resides, and some are rebelling against Paradisa’s uneasy truce. To survive, Connor must bind his soul to divine healer Raphael. Both men will fight to balance attraction and duty as they save human and heavenly realms from a war between gods. SUPERNATURAL x JASON BOURNE Excerpt: The more the Tunisian cab driver’s gaze roamed to palm trees in the median, or to the other law-breaking motorists, the more Connor Bishara’s fingers twitched. Beside him, his sister Clara gave a nudge. “Loosen up. If he sees your backseat driver face on, he’ll raise our fare.” Like mother, like daughter. He rolled his eyes and turned to the window, watching the city of Tunis reboot from its Maghrib prayer hour. His previous tours of the Middle East were numerous, but he never fully embraced this dissonant love child of France and the Sahara. No. He was used to seeing nations of his own blood through the scope of a US rifle. In the front seat, their father chatted animatedly in Arabic with the driver. Connor tried to translate their conversation, but the words slipped through the cracks in his brain like sand. It was easier to focus on his father’s small talk than the driver’s inattentiveness. On this trip, he’d witnessed plenty of cars destroyed on the Avenue Habib after hitting drunken tourists or feral cats. Connor’s taxi hit something entirely different. He didn’t process the impact. Just before – his father’s Arabic breaking apart – and after – airbags like mortars, lap belts clinging, the spinning car’s screeeeeech. The city blared one unanimous horn, then faded into a thousand shouting voices....

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PW #111: New Adult Contemporary Romance: PROMISE ME ALWAYS

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor Name: Diana Gardin Mentee Name: Rhonda Shaw Title: PROMISE ME ALWAYS Category: New Adult Genre: Contemporary Romance Word Count: 87,000 Pitch: Best-selling rap artist Danny Anderson believes he has everything he needs. But a surprise reunion with Gabrielle, the woman who owns his heart and is now a single mother, leaves him shell-shocked. Refusing to let his true desires, love and family, continue to elude him, Danny will stop at nothing. Even if it means confronting his past once and for all. Excerpt: Danny – Six Years Earlier I walked along the deserted streets, riding the shadows to remain unseen, the white puffs of my breath against the black night the only sign of my presence. Even though my mind raced, the constant whirling making me sick, I had no answer. The expectations of me tonight were clear, but there was no way I could go through with it. Refusal meant death, but conformity guaranteed a life sentence. If I ever wanted a chance at having a life, to be someone outside of this godforsaken place, I needed to walk away. But, my ticket to freedom wasn’t there yet, and if I backed out now, I would have to look over my shoulder, more than I already did, until that day came—if they even let me live through the night. No matter what I did, I was fucked. Everyone expected me to take this path, so why the fuck not? Acceptance provided the family—the belonging—I never had, even if it wasn’t the family I dreamed of. But this wasn’t what I believed in. There was no trust, no security, no unconditional love in this family. Only constant fear, distrust and death. Always death. At the end of the sidewalk, I paused. A trail of sweat rolled down my back and my heartbeat jackhammered in my ears. My fate waited for me in the alley and I had to decide. It was now or never....

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PW #112: Adult Gaslamp Fantasy: THE RESURRECTIONIST OF CALIGO

Manuscript Status: Finished Mentor: Michelle Hauck Mentees: Wendy Roberts and Alicia Zaloga Title: THE RESURRECTIONIST OF CALIGO Category/Genre: Adult Gaslamp Fantasy (dual POV) Word Count: 112,000 Pitch: Roger Weathersby, Man of Science, is reduced to body-snatching after a prison stint rewards his love affair with Sibylla, a princess exiled for refusing to marry her cousin. When Roger unearths a strangled woman and is framed for her murder, Sibylla must pardon him from the scaffold with her “faerie-magic”—thus cursing him with an unquenchable addiction—as the murder count rises in a dangerous game of magic vs. science. Excerpt: Gas lamps bobbed like faerie lights in the foul wind sweeping down from Greyanchor Necropolis. Roger Weathersby adjusted his topcoat to conceal the rope and rolled-up sheet slung over his shoulder. Thrusting his moth-eaten gloves in his pockets, he inventoried his supplies with his fingertips: candles, tinderbox, lockpicks, folding candle hood, and a reassuring—if useless—garlic bulb for protection. “Yer lookin’ a mite wet, Roger love,” crooned a painted doxy from a tawdry lodging house doorway. Her skirt clung to her thighs like rotten leaves. “Still no coin? Discount fer that handsome face.” Roger cast her a regretful look and tucked his chin behind his collar. “Try me again tomorrow. You’ll hear my pockets janglin’ all the way in Mouthstreet.” Veering off Goatmonger Street, he headed toward a looming hill, swollen with centuries of bones. He lost his hat in a mad shimmy over the necropolis wall but didn’t waste time searching. Enveloped by fog, Roger relied on water-filled wheel ruts left by a hearse to find his way through the forty-acre necropolis. On the previous day, he had trailed a funeral through the gate and noticed the simplicity of the affair: a single gentleman mourner and an anonymous mute clad in the traditional crape and mourning mask. Such closefisted families never bothered to hire a night watchman. This corpse would be ripe for the plucking....

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